By ANN SIOCK, STAFF WRITER
February 1985: Joe Zielinski purchased the Hacienda Mexican Restaurant after managing it since it opened in 1984. The restaurant on Scranton’s South Washington Avenue offered local foodies a chance to get their Mexican fix with standard south-of-the-border fare made fresh daily.
In 1991, the establishment was sold to Al and Andrea Palilla of Old Forge, who ran it for the next 16 years and saw it through its move from the city to Birney Avenue in Moosic. The new location, which opened in 1999, enabled the Hacienda’s staff to serve their classic Chicken Burrito and frosty margaritas to up to 85 people in smoking and nonsmoking sections.
“Different things on the menu usually don’t work here,” co-owner Andrea Palilla said. “People come here for that earthy, fill-your-gut kind of food. They know what they want before they get here.”
Despite the change in size, Palilla said the restaurant worked to maintain the cozy atmosphere the community had come to expect from the Hacienda.
“Having a family-oriented atmosphere has been good to us over the years,” Palilla said. “Our customers have been good to us over the years.”
The Palillas were not concerned about the restaurant’s move to Moosic, citing how a lot of their customers told them it would bring the Hacienda closer to them while the 3-mile difference would not isolate their Scranton regulars.
In fact, the move offered ample opportunities aside from more seating and the ability to add smoking and nonsmoking sections. The lack of mercantile tax in Moosic made the Palillas’ decision to buy a building and renovate it more affordable. The move provided more parking and even enabled the restaurant to begin on- and off-site catering, something it had not been able to do before.
Hacienda closed in the late 2000s.
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Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast